Pugh to seek Coast seat

National has chosen former three-term Westland district mayor Maureen Pugh to challenge Labour in the West Coast-Tasman electorate next year.

Pugh, selected at a party meeting in Murchison on Saturday, served two terms on the Westland District Council from 1998 before being elected mayor. She stood down this year.

In a statement, she said her family had a 130-year history on the West Coast and it was "an immensely proud day" to become the National candidate.

"This region has massive jobs and growth potential and National has a good story to tell here. I am looking forward to getting out and telling that story."

Pugh is the second woman to stand for National in the electorate. The first, Margaret Moir, won it from Labour's Kerry Burke in 1990, before losing to current MP Damien O'Connor.

O'Connor in turn was tipped out by National's Chris Auchinvole in 2008 and spent one term as a list member before winning West Coast-Tasman back for Labour in 2011. He said today he intended to seek the Labour nomination again.

Pugh, who farms with her husband John at Turiwhate, inland between Greymouth and Hokitika, has three adult children and six grandchildren. "Growing our local economy is essential for the development of our region," she said.

"We need to continue to explore our mineral resources and capitalise on our massive tourism potential. Now is the time for leadership on these issues, while my opponents aren't sure where they stand."

A trustee of the West Coast Power Trust and the Pike River Memorial Scholarship Trust, Pugh said she was a passionate West Coaster with a 30-year record of community service.

"I have seen through my former role as mayor that the top priorities for our region are job security, improving our tourism sector and filling in the communication/broadband gaps," she said.